Dear MPA News:

I’m writing with regard to your article on the Great Barrier Reef, which is under threat of being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to plans for significant new port development in the region (“World Heritage Committee Addresses East Rennell and Great Barrier Reef”, MPA News 15:1).

People should be made aware that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act provides that legislation made by the federal Government to prohibit or regulate activities that may harm animals or plants in the Marine Park – whether the activities originate within or outside the Marine Park – overrides any conflicting provisions or acts of the Queensland Government. Therefore, action to regulate or prohibit the proposed coal ports, etc., can be taken by the federal Government unilaterally.

Graeme Kelleher, AO
Kelleher served for 16 years as the first Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and is a senior advisor to the World Commission on Protected Areas – Marine.

Note: All decisions of the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in June 2013 and including a decision regarding the Great Barrier Reef, are available at